The Jumhooree Party has selected nine parliamentary candidates for March’s elections, choosing eight sitting MPs as well as retired Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz.
The ticket for Kimbidhoo constituency was given to Riyaz as he signed for the party yesterday. Speaking at the Jumhooree Party’s (JP) ‘Kunooz’ headquarters, leader Gasim Ibrahim requested that the people of the constituency vote for Riyaz.
Gasim also endorsed former Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Sameer, who joined the party the previous day after being guaranteed the ticket for the Dhidhoo constituency he currently represents.
The party selections have received some negative responses from supported both insides and outside of the party.
Along with Sameer, the JP has awarded tickets to eight sitting MPs, inclusing: JP leaderánd Maamigili MP Gasim Ibrahim, Mathiveri MP Hussein Mohamed, Hithadhoo South MP Hassan Latheef, Maradhoo MP Hassan Adil, Naifaru MP Ahmed Mohamed, Gemanafushi MP Ilham Ahmed, and Kanditheem MP Mohamed Hussein.
Sitting JP MP s Shifag Mufeed and Hoarafushi MP Ahmed Rasheed have decided not to run for re-election.
The JP’s selection policy has caused consternation within the ranks, however, with JP council member Fuad Gasim – also the state minister for health and gender – expressing disapproval of the party selection policy.
Fuad said that awarding tickets to members who just recently joined the party would limit the opportunities for party loyalists. Of greatest concern to Fuad was the selection of Sameer, though he stated additional reasons for grievance.
“I believe a lot of people worked very hard for the country, democracy, and the party during the recent presidential elections. Even if they are MP s I cannot accept them – not being part of that work and now coming to us for tickets when the government changed,” Fuad was quoted as saying.
JP Deputy Leader and spokes person Dr Hussein Rasheed denied the party ticket was awarded to anyone.
“People are saying a lot things to create divisions in the party and the coalition. But none of that is true.” said Dr Hussein.
The nine candidates in question were reviewed by the special committee created for the purpose by the council, and since they received more than 51% marks they do not have to compete in a primary, he added.
“For the remaining 19 seats, we will be holding a primary if we have to, and today is the deadline for applying to these seats.”
The Minister of Islamic Affairs Mohamed Shaheem of the Adhaalath Party– who campaigned for the JP during presidential elections – has also expressed disapproval of the selection.
“Every one were in the MDP are getting the coalition ticket from JP. Where is [the] fairness [in this]? They won’t be loyal to this government,” Shaheem was quoted as saying.
After Adhaalath was excluded from the governing coalition’s Majlis negotiations to assign seats to coalition parties, the JP offered to share up to 3 seats from their allocation of 28 slots. The JP has said that slots will be shared only with conditions, such as not competing with the JP in other constituencies.
Local media has today reported Adhaalath’s leaders to be displeased with the offer of three seats, reportedly rejecting the offer. Gasim told Sun Online that Adhaalath had requested five slots, though he maintained that the original offer remained on the table.
JP candidate Riyaz was appointed as Commissioner of Police immediately after the controversial power transfer of 7 February 2012. Riyaz – not a police officer at the time – was seen carrying President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation letter to the speaker of the People’s Majlis without any official authorisation.
The opposition MDP has often accused Riyaz of involvement in planning the police mutiny and the alleged ‘coup d’etat’ of 7 February. His appointment was questioned, and the Police Integrity Commission found that he had violated the Police Act by campaigning against President Nasheed whilst commissioner.
As all parties prepare for the People’s Majlis elections scheduled for 22 March, a number of high profile candidates have emerged from outside of the political sphere. Local celebrities have shown an interest in contesting – among them famous sportsmen, media personalities,actors, and directors .
Sports personalities showing such an interest includes President of Volleyball Association of Maldives (VAM) Mohamed Riyaz, volleyball coach Ibrahim Rasheed (Satho), and former national football team players Ali Umar, Ahmed Thoriq (Tom), Ashraf Lutfee (Sampath), and Mohamed Sinan (Naanee).
Media personalities considering running include Television Maldives’s presenter and journalist Aishath Leeza, Raajje TV news head Ibrahim ‘Aswad’ Waheed, Dhitv presenter Mohamed Ameeth, and presenter Aminath Namza.
From the film industry, director and Vice Chair of Maldives Film Association Fathmath Nahula, actor and city council member Lufshan Shakeeb (Looppe), and actorsMuhamed Abdulla (Muhamma) and Ali Shameel.
All of the above, the exception of Aswad (MDP), will represent pro-government parties should they choose to run.